Japan’s newest satellite was sent into orbit from Russia’s far north on a mission to test a number of space technologies. Liftoff of the Rockot launch vehicle was at 1343 GMT (8:43 a.m. EST) from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The mission was delayed 24 hours due to high winds. Delivered into orbit about 90 minutes after launch was the first satellite of the Space Environment Reliability Verification Integrated System (SERVIS) for the Japanese Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer.
SERVIS 1 was placed into an orbit 1,000 kilometers high where it will test the usability of a large menagerie of commercial off-the-shelf spacecraft components and technologies over the next two years. Weighing 1,848 pounds, SERVIS 1 will be joined in orbit in around 2006 by another satellite carrying commercially available parts. Together, the two could allow future missions to use less expensive and more reliable components to make such satellites more practical. Eurockot plans two launches in 2004: the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite and the Korean KOMPSAT 2 Earth-observation spacecraft. Officials also said that the Rockot booster is being offered to launch the European Earth Explorer Missions comprising four satellites to be launched between 2004 and 2008. The German Government’s SARLupe constellation with five satellites is another prospect for serial launches. In Asia invitations for tender are expected for scientific and commercial remote-sensing satellite launches in the near future, Eurockot said.